England football greats Gary Neville and Roy Keane fear the game could return to its ugly past after a series of attacks on players.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who was behind Manchester City’s victory to secure the Premier League title on Monday morning, was overshadowed by several fans.
Shortly after the full-time whistle blew, fans took to the field to celebrate the victory, with the goalkeeper strategizing to reach the sidelines through the fans as the unruly spectators used the celebration as an opportunity to insult the player.
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The club have confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the incident, with Sweden apologizing to the goalkeeper.
“Manchester City sincerely apologize to Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who was insulted when fans entered the field after playing the final whistle in today’s match,” City said in a statement. “The club immediately launched an investigation and once identified, the person responsible will be banned from the stadium indefinitely.”
The incident follows several horrific moments in England football this year.
Last week, a Nottingham Forest fan was jailed after he was convicted of attacking Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp. In this case sharp stitches are needed.
In another incident, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said last week that “the FA and the Premier League have a big problem to deal with” when he was forced to defend himself against an Everton fan when spectators crowded the pitch after a game.
Neville, the former Manchester United star who worked on local broadcasts in the City game, was speechless at the news of the Olsen attack.
“These brilliant last 20 years, or 30 years, where we’ve lowered the fence in English football and the fans have been respected and 99 out of 100 times they don’t run on the pitch because they enjoy the family atmosphere, much more. Kids coming to the game, much more. Women are coming into the game, ”Neville told Sky Sports.
“Suddenly in these last few weeks, months, we’re not just running these idiots on the pitch, which is a problem, but if you’re attacking managers and players – what are you doing?
“Running on the pitch, they’ve won the league, they’re raving, I understand, but attacking the opposing players on the field. Where did it come from, why is that happening?”
“I have no idea, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Manchester United legend Keane, meanwhile, says he fears a player or manager could one day be seriously injured.
“A player or a manager is going to be seriously injured. If you’re crazy enough to punch a player, you’re going crazy enough to do something stupid like stabbing a player,” Keane said.
“I think people have come back after Kovid and forgotten how to treat themselves. Stupid, naughty, disrespectful. Absolutely disrespectful.”
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